Sunday, November 23, 2008

Aromas of Blasphemy

Sorry, its been a few days since I’ve posted. The change of weather, illness, and lack of inspiring vino has left me to post about the one amazing botella I’ve had lately.

USofA winemakers:
Experiment, do something DIFFERENT for God’s sake. Thank you Dashe (and others, I know you’re out there, too).

Dashe Cellars 2007 McFadden Farms, Potter Valley Zinfandel “L’Enfant Terrible”, $25, 13.8% abv

What a long name for such a lovely wine! Yes, this baby has been the subject, not of controversy, but a lot of bloggish hubbub. For traditionalist it may be a blasphemous interpretation if Zin, yet us Beaujo freaks and natural wine enthusiasts see it as a domestic victory. Wherever your vinous philosophies lie, this wine is tasty.

I read somewhere that Mike Dashe calls this wine his cool-climate, Cali answer to a Cru Beaujo, and he is spot on. Remeniscent of a Foillard Morgon, this wine, fermented by natural yeasts, aged in a somewhat-neutral, large, foudre-type barrel thing, this wine is crazy low in ABV compared to most Zin. It has that cherry pie, lipstick, strawberry-rhubarb, brown sugar, and dark stony aroma that makes it uber-yum. Even some of my friends who adore the big, spicy, jammy Zin concurred. I even got a choco-vanilla lover to claim, “I guess I like some reds without oak.”

This lady loves it, too. Too much.

This is going to be ONE of my Turkey day wines. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. If I had to go all USofA wine, I’d do this, some Rocks & Gravel some OMP Rielsing and some L. Mawby Blanc de Blancs. But I probably won’t do that. I'll just watch the new Beyonce video over and over and over and over...

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Finally, less politics, more wine!

We don’t need to talk politics—we are victorious! (Except for CA Prop. 8 and its evil ilk.)

Here are my celebratory bubbles. Capital C Champagne. Capital RM, Recoltant-Manipulant. I would’ve gone more local, as Indiana went blue, but I think the French are celebrating right along with us! And this stuff is amazing. I lovelovelovelove RM! So distinctive.

H. Billiot, Brut Reserve, Grand Cru, (Ambonnay)

Most Pinot Noir, billowy, fresh, mouth-watering white cherry yellow plum fruit! Apple-blossom and a puffy, delicate pastry finish. Bright, fresh acid and very persistent fine bubbles! Tastes like a cherry Danish, but you can’t tell where the cherry ends and where the dough begins. YUM. You cannot not like this Champange. Just as good on day three of being opened (even though there was only about one glass left). Tons of joyous personality!

I love Champagne! And democracy! And Democrats!

Way to go Hoosiers!
(We can do even better!)


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Notes on Yesterday

BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA. Growing up, because my parents have always advocated voting, I assumed that everyone voted and everyone should. After the 2000 election, I realized this isn’t the case. I have voted in every election since 2002. In 2006 I stepped up and donated a few bucks to important races. This year I donated a little more and, more importantly, got off of my ass and hit the pavement.

Yesterday we pushed through to make a Change here in Indiana. Jason woke up at 4:00 am to monitor polls. I was out at the Obama HQ at 8:30 to start canvassing. Yes, I knocked on 50 doors, yes, I called over 75 phone numbers, and, yes, I helped get people to their correct polling locations and improve our candidate's visibility in Bloomington—but so did so many of my fellow volunteers. I believe that I and my fellow volunteers helped get those five votes per precinct that colored Indiana blue.

So, yes, my efforts paid off big time. I am proud to be a Hoosier. I am proud to be a Hoosier because of the fellow Hoosiers I met yesterday. When I showed up at the Obama office to get in line to check in for canvassing, an elderly gentleman, shaking and barely able to walk, came up to me and told me that he shakes too much to pin a button on his hat. So he handed me his hat and I pinned a “Veterans for Obama” button to his navy blue hat. Before I had the chance to talk to him he raised his voice a bit and said “Let’s F*ing do this!” before grabbing his canvassing packet and

Later that day, after canvassing and calling, I went with two lovely ladies to go get students to vote on the IU campus. One girl I was with was only sixteen years old, and she had been volunteering for the campaign for several weeks. Although unable to vote, she knew she needed to do something to engage her community, and she tried to get everyone she knew—and plenty she didn’t know—to get out there and vote for our guy. America is coming together.

Like our President-Elect said—we can’t rest on our laurels. We need to keep working. We need to work to reverse some of the perverse ballot measures that passed in many states, most notably California’s Proposition 8 and similar measures in Florida and Arkansas. Luckily we still have Massachusetts and Connecticut and a few more of us are elected officials. Gay marriage will be legal in this country soon. We need to be actively involved in helping this country resume its place as an example for the world, on this issue and many more. We need to work to get this country back on its feet, get its head in the right place, and get it progressing the way it should.

Finally, watching the Grant Park rally, with my sister and brother-in-law somewhere in the crowd among many of my friends and fellow Chicagoans, only one block from where I used to work, I realized I was watching a defining moment not only for myself, my generation, but for all generations, and those to come. From now on, I will work for Change.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


I know you will. Remind your friends, family, and neighbors. Since I know I have responsible readers, join me in getting out the vote. I'll be out all day. Let's Hope it's a good one!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Nouveau is here!

Before the French.

As a direct response to Dr. Vino, I am drinking local Nouveau, about three weeks before the gas-guzzling Beaujo Nou arrives. Now, if you know me, I do not care for carbonic macerated style wines, especially with that industrial bubblegumbanana-yeast flavor/aroma. (I also wish people understood Beaujolais first and understood Nouveau second. I could rant on this for a whole post.) To me Nouveau is nothing more than a marketing ploy, and trying to sell a mountain of leftover plonk in March is always a pain in the arse.



Then I tasted this vintage of Oliver Winery’s Marechal Foch Nouveau, from a 1 acre plot on their Monroe County vineyard. Be careful…it is pronounced “mar-eh-shall fosh”. I’ve had this before and never really cared for it that much. It was always nice, but that’s it. And nice doesn’t cut it.

Marechal Foch!

Marechal Foch is an inter-specific hybrid variety, once grown in the Loire (like Chambourcin), and once very common in parts of Canada and Oregon (a few Oregon and BC wineries still keep their old Foch vines). Many theories of parentage surround this cold-hardy vine, but I do know it was named after French marshal (Marechal) Ferdinand Foch.


Many of the wineries, particularly in Oregon and British Columbia pulled their vines once vignerons realized they could grow vinifera more successfully than once thought, giving way to Pinot Noir, Chard, and the clan of Bordeaux and Alsace varieties. There goes any exciting distinctiveness that an unusual variety would bring to the table. I appreciate those vignerons who keep their Foch and have confidence in its quality.

But I digress.

Foch's tomb.

Oliver uses Foch solely for their celebratory Nouveau. It has been a few years since I’ve had their Foch, back when I only liked big, modern, heavy reds. My tastes have changed, and now I’m going to celebrate the success of Foch.

Oliver Winery, Marechal Foch Nouveau, Creekbend Vineyard, 2008, $12, 10% abv

Dark purple. Wow, a very dark blackberry aroma with some more black cherry, and dark purple floral notes, and touch of berry bubblegum. Super-juicy flavors of liquid blackberry jam that reminds me of a super-light Touraine Cot plus some of that carbonic maceration character, and more complexity than you may think. Very different from Gamay-based Nouveay—more black fruits and a little more oomph. At 10% abv, you can drink a ton of this business and it is going to be kick-tush on Turkey day. And wine both myself and grandma can love.

PS. I brined a boneless turkey breast for 15 hours (water, sea salt, brown sugar, bay, black peppercorns, ginger) and roasted it with a rub (salt, sugar, pepper, paprika, thyme, rosemary)…and it was HEAVEN! Served it with roasted turnips, purple cabbage, and sweet potatoes. Had some Marechal Foch Nouveau.